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Blockchain experience backs Malan Breton’s show this NYFW

Malan Breton's SS18 show will incorporate blockchain technology via SohoMuse
Malan Breton’s SS18 show will incorporate blockchain technology via SohoMuse

SohoMuse, a new invite-only networking platform for creative professionals, is turning to blockchain technology as both a form of token and the basis for transparent transactions this New York Fashion Week.

The site, which is currently in beta mode, has partnered with designer Malan Breton and blockchain solutions company Tokenly to launch the innovative shopping experience.

It will not only play host to the live stream of the designer’s show on September 7, but enable members to purchase pieces from Breton’s collection in real-time. All transactions made will be recorded via the blockchain, which is essentially a distributed digital ledger; making all purchases made both transparent and more secure.

All viewers of the live stream will also receive a blockchain token called ‘MALANBRETON’, as a form of digital memorabilia, however. These will offer exclusive future perks such as early access to features, sales and events. The token introduces a form of Bitcoin-like digital asset, which though doesn’t currently act as a currency per se, is said to be the predecessor of a future fashion-based cryptocurrency.

SohoMuse co-founder, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, says: “By adding blockchain technology to our comprehensive suite of tools, we are staying true to our mission of offering the best possible tools to fuel our members’ careers. This fashion show collaboration is the first of many exciting and innovative projects we will unveil as SohoMuse continues to grow.”

By introducing tokens for fashion, SohoMuse is giving designers and brands the ability to further fan engagement through fully traceable and transparent interactions. The tokens are entirely customisable in their use by the creator, thus enabling brands and designers to offer unique privileges case by case.

The blockchain integration also sets the foundation for the platform in the future by presenting a new form of digital value, ownership and a monetisation opportunity for SohoMuse’s creative community. Fashion creatives will not only be able to showcase their work, as is the basis of the network, but have an additional source of revenue by selling it.

“The tokenisation of creative work presents a tremendous opportunity for creatives operating in consumer and commercial segments – not only in terms of addressing existing issues but also in creating new opportunities for collaboration, monetisation and engagement,” says Martin Rerak, chief strategy officer of Tokenly.

Blockchain technology is already disrupting many industries from banking to music, retail and even government. For the consumer industries, it presents a big opportunity to enable new forms of value exchange between brand and customer.

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e-commerce

Digital luxury: Who are 2016’s winners (and losers)?

Balenciaga digital luxury
Balenciaga.com

Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.

The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.

Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?

Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.

Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.

Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.

Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.

What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.

You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.

Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.

But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.

“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.

“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”

The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.